Saturday, October 11, 2008

Internationals Revisited: Season 3

(You can find the looks back at season one here, and season two here)

Biggest Signing

John Cho, Pittsburgh Steelmakers SP, $10.3M
Analysis: Cho has been a consistently good, but not great starter for this organization (now Burlington). He has the ratings in most categories to be a #2 starter, but with splits in the 60s he's not ever going to be a true ace. He has not posted an ERA under 4 at any level above AA. Certainly not a bad signing, but Cho has not developed into the real star that he was projected as when he first signed. Considering that Vladimir Rodriguez went for less than half of what Cho did, it's hard to give this signing very high marks for value.

Biggest Bust

Edgar Puente, Cincinnati Bowties 2B, $8.0M
Analysis: Puente shows all the signs of being a productive ML player. His ratings are solid across the board, and he was showing significant progress in his development. And then he retired at the age of 22. Why? Because he spent three full seasons at Low A ball, tearing the cover off the ball to the tune of .992, 1.155 and 1.130 OPS seasons without getting promoted. Your best prospects should be moved up roughly one level per season. Generally, guys who are a couple years behind that path (if they've played 3 years and are still in rookie ball, 4 years in Low A, 5 years in High A, etc.) will start to think about retiring. There's every indication that Puente would be an All-Star caliber 2B in the middle of someone's ML lineup right now if he had just been promoted.

Funniest Name

Harry Johnson, Little Rock Razorbacks LF, $1.3M
Analysis: Harry Johnson... heehee... A free agent this off-season, he's been hitting well in AAA ball for a couple years. He could be a useful role player or bat off the bench for someone this season.

Least Expensive Player Still Active In The Majors

Armando Rosado, Boise Idaho Potatoes SS, $1.4M
Analysis: This was not an impressive IFA class near the bottom end. No one signed for less than $1.4M has earned a full season of ML service. Rosado, the guy with the smallest signing bonus to record a full season of ML service, could be the worst full-time offensive player in Ryan World. He has a nice glove, but also has a .520 OPS through more than 1,000 ML at bats. His OPS last season was .475.

Least Expensive Player Still Active At Any Level

Luis Gonzales, Durham Bulls RP, $340K
Analysis: For several seasons, no international free agents would sign for less than $200K (as opposed to the $50k guys that are available now, so Gonzales was actually the fourth-cheapest IFA signed during season three. His ratings mean he'll never get ML or even AAA hitters out with any kind of regularity, but he has posted back-to-back effective AA seasons for the NY Bombers.

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